In today’s fast-paced business world, the health and well-being of employees are sometimes overlooked. Yet, it’s a well-known fact that a healthy employee is more productive, happier, and more likely to remain loyal to a company. One of the most critical aspects of ensuring employee health is to pay attention to workplace ergonomics.
What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the study of designing workspaces and tasks to fit the user, rather than forcing the user to adapt to an unfitting environment. It considers how we work, what tools we use, our workplace’s physical setup, and the demands of our job roles. When correctly applied, ergonomics can lead to increased comfort, reduced risk of injuries, and improved work efficiency.
Why is it Important?
Ergonomics isn’t just about comfort—it’s about ensuring the health and wellbeing of everyone in the workspace. Here’s why it’s crucial:
- Physical Implications: Ignoring ergonomics can lead to a host of physical issues. The most common of these are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which include conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and muscle strains. Improper workstation setups can strain the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, leading to chronic conditions over time.
- Visual Health: Extended periods staring at a computer screen without proper ergonomic setup can result in digital eye strain. Symptoms may include dry eyes, blurred vision, and headaches, all of which can detract from an employee’s ability to work effectively.
- Mental Wellbeing: Constant discomfort or physical pain from a non-ergonomic setup can contribute to feelings of frustration, fatigue, and even anxiety or depression over time. A comfortable workspace can enhance an employee’s overall mood and mental health.
- Economic Impacts for Employers: For businesses, the consequences of neglecting ergonomics are manifold. Directly, there’s an increase in medical costs due to employees seeking treatment for MSDs and other ailments. There’s also the indirect cost of lost workdays—employees taking sick leave because of discomfort or injury. Furthermore, discomfort can decrease productivity even when employees are present, leading to sub-optimal work outputs.
- Long-term Health Risks for Employees: While the immediate discomfort or pain from a non-ergonomic setup might seem manageable initially, the long-term effects can be significant. Employees might face chronic pain, require surgeries, or even have to consider early retirement due to severe MSDs.
Tips for a More Ergonomic Workplace
- Adjustable Chairs: Ensure chairs are adjustable and provide lumbar support. Feet should be flat on the ground, with knees at a 90-degree angle.
- Monitor Placement: The top of computer monitors should be at or slightly below eye level. This reduces neck strain.
- Keyboard and Mouse Position: Keep the keyboard and mouse close enough so that elbows remain close to the body and form an angle between 90 and 120 degrees.
- Regular Breaks: Encourage employees to take short breaks every hour to stretch and rest their eyes. This helps in reducing physical and visual fatigue.
- Desk Arrangement: Items frequently used should be within arm’s reach. This reduces the need to stretch or twist frequently.
- Footrests: If someone’s feet don’t reach the ground, provide a footrest to support the feet.
- Lighting: Ensure adequate lighting. Too much or too little light can cause eye strain.
- Standing Desks: Consider providing adjustable desks that allow employees to alternate between sitting and standing.
- Reduce Glare: Position monitors to avoid glare from windows and lights. Anti-glare screens can also be beneficial.
- Educate Employees: Offer training sessions on proper postures and ergonomically correct workstation setups.
At Healthscreen, we understand the importance of an ergonomic workplace for the health and well-being of your employees. If you’re looking to optimise your work environment or require any other occupational health services for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us. Together, we can pave the way for a healthier, more productive workforce.